All posts by accecalifornia

New Report: Wells Fargo’s at the Bottom of the Heap

When it comes to foreclosing on Californians, it looks like Wells Fargo may take the prize.  According to a report released today, Wells Fargo is responsible for more homes in the foreclosure pipeline in California than any other single lender.  

Wells Fargo is servicing the most loans, but they are providing less principal reduction to struggling borrowers than either Bank of America and Chase – who themselves should be doing more!  Wells Fargo trails behind Bank of America and Chase when it comes to the amount of principal reduction given with first lien loan modifications, according to the Monitor of the multi-state Attorneys General settlement with the five big mortgage servicers.

This is the very same Wells Fargo that just had its most profitable year ever in 2012, with earnings of $19 billion.  

The report, California in Crisis: How Wells Fargo’s Foreclosure Pipeline Is Damaging Local Communities, by ACCE (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment), the Center for Popular Democracy and the Home Defenders League, shows the harm coming to homeowners, communities and the economy unless Wells Fargo reverses its course and averts some or all of the impending foreclosures.  

Download the report at:…

The report uses data from Foreclosure Radar to look at loans currently in the foreclosure pipeline in California – meaning loans that have a Notice of Default or Notice of Trustee Sale. Of the 65,466 loans in the foreclosure pipeline, close to 20% of them are serviced by Wells Fargo.

If Wells Fargo’s 11,616 distressed loans go through foreclosure, California will take a next $3.3 billion hit: Each home will lose approximately 22 percent of its value, for a total loss of approximately $1.07 billion; homes in the surrounding neighborhood will lose value as well, for an additional loss of about $2.2 billion; and government tax revenues will be cut by $20 million, as a result of the depreciation.  

And not surprisingly, African American and Latino communities will be particularly hard-hit. The report includes maps for seven major cities showing minority density and dots for each of Wells Fargo’s distressed loans. In city after city, they are heavily clustered in neighborhoods with high African American and Latino populations.

“My community has been absolutely devastated by the foreclosure crisis, and I put a lot of the blame at the doorstep of Wells Fargo,” says ACCE Home Defenders League member Vivian Richardson.   “Wells Fargo’s heartless and unfair foreclosure practices are sending far more homes into foreclosure than is necessary.”  

“Our communities and our entire State are still reeling from the housing crisis, and will be for years to come,” said San Francisco Supervisor David Campos.  “As this report shows, the numbers of homes still facing foreclosure is enormous.  Principal reduction is clearly a critical strategy for saving homes and stabilizing the economy.  Wells Fargo and the other major banks should be doing more of it.”

The report recommends:

1. Wells Fargo should commit to a broad principal reduction program.  

This means that every homeowner facing hardship should be offered a loan modification, when Wells has the legal authority to do so. The modification should be based on an affordable debt-to-income ratio, achieved through a waterfall that prioritizes principal reduction and interest rate reductions. Junior liens must also be modified.

2. Wells Fargo should report data on its principal reduction, short sales, and foreclosures by race, income, and zip code.  

Wells Fargo must be more transparent about its mortgage practices. The bank has an egregious history of harming California’s African American and Latino communities through predatory and discriminatory lending. To show the public that it has reformed, Wells Fargo must make this data available. The people of California need to know that Well Fargo is no longer discriminating against people of color and is fairly and equitably providing relief to homeowners and to the hardest hit communities.  

3. Wells Fargo should immediately stop all foreclosures until the first two demands are met

In the event that it takes a few months to set up a fully functioning principal reduction program, Wells Fargo needs to immediately stop all foreclosures. Wells Fargo has done enough harm. It’s time to stop. California deserves a break.

ACCE is waging a campaign to push Wells Fargo to be a leader in California, their home state, in saving homes – beginning with their performance to comply with the Attorneys General Settlement and with the Homeowner Bill of Rights, but not ending there.  

To sign on to a letter to Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf to support the campaign demands, click here:…

ACCE is a multi-racial, democratic, non-profit community organization building power in low to moderate income neighborhoods to stand and fight for social, economic and racial justice. ACCE has chapters in eleven counties across the State of California. For more information visit or follow ACCE on twitter @CalOrganize

Coalition launches contest to name “Mr. or Ms. 1% of California”

While the majority of Californians continue to suffer from the economic crisis, big corporations and super-rich individuals are driving an agenda in our state to ensure the 1% prospers at the expense of the 99%.

The result has been an increased economic burden for working families that includes escalating costs of higher education and healthcare, fewer jobs, more foreclosures, depressed wages, and a deteriorating quality of life.

Why? Because rich CEOs and executives in the Golden State are pocketing millions while backing and bankrolling an agenda that keeps economic and political power in the hands of the few, killing or delaying the chances of a broad economic recovery for the rest of us.

To shine a light on these CEOs we’ve nominated a dozen of California’s leading 1% in a contest to choose “Mr. or Ms. 1% of California.” Visit to meet our nominees and cast your vote.

The top 1%’s stranglehold on our state is no accident. California is home to 57 fortune 500 companies, the top 25 of which generated $117 billion in profits in 2010. These companies are driven by some of the country’s highest paid and most influential CEOs who use their vast fortunes to engineer and maintain the status quo that keeps them on top while systematically robbing the 99% of what’s needed for a recovery to rebuild communities.

Who do you think should win?  Mr. Crude ? Mr. Foreclosure? The Interest Rate Swap King?  Meet California’s 1% and VOTE TODAY at and then tell a friend.

On Dec. 6th, Occupy goes “home” for the holidays

Four years ago Wall Street bankers crashed our economy after reckless gambling with our homes and our livelihoods. Then they looted our Treasury for bailouts and bonuses while their 1% allies used the economic chaos as an excuse to rob us of the investments we've made in helping every Californian achieve the American Dream. But since September 17, the simmering anger at Wall Street has found a powerful expression through the Occupy movement, massive campus mobilizations and increasing numbers of homeowners standing up to wrongful bank evictions by organizing community-led “home defenses.”

This month, the Occupy Wall Street movement is joining with brave homeowners (underwater and foreclosure victims alike), renters fighting foreclosure-related evictions, and other community members personally affected by Wall Street's greed around the country to say, “Enough is enough – we're not going to let them take our homes.” On December 6th hundreds of homeowners and renters facing foreclosure are announcing that they are not leaving when the sheriff comes. Some are even taking the bold step of moving back in to the homes from which they have been evicted. Collectively, the 99% are taking a stand against Wall Street and their 1% allies a step further by demanding negotiations instead of fraudulent foreclosures and justice instead of avarice.

Here in California, one of the path-breakers in taking this type of action is Rose Gudiel, a member of the Alliance of Californians of Community Empowerment (ACCE) and the ReFund California campaign. In October, she successfully defended her home and family from a foreclosure eviction by taking decisive action. She was arrested for protesting outside of a Fannie Mae office in Pasadena. After her arrest, Fannie Mae agreed to halt her eviction and then met with her to negotiate a modification of her loan. Other home defenses have sprouted in places such as Atlanta,Cleveland,Minneapolis and San Francisco.

25% of homeowners in America are underwater and by the end of 2012 nearly 13 million homes will be in some stage of the foreclosure process. There is no shortage of families being pushed to the brink and the December 6th Occupy Our Homes Day of Action represents the launch of an effort to support families that are ready to stand up to Wall Street. Everyone has a right to decent, affordable housing. The website, was launched to help the 99% fight for this right. It features an online action toolkit and a “Pledge in Defense of Homes and Neighborhoods” that anyone around the country can sign as a signal of their willingness to take action in defense of their own home or their willingness to stand in solidary with others taking that bold step. The goal is to get 50,000 people to take the pledge in the coming weeks.

Rose Gudiel and others that have stood up to their banks know that eviction defenses and home occupations should not be taken on lightly. That's why the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) has put together a teach-in called “Know Your Rights: How to Defend Your Home from Illegal Bank Actions” to help would be home defenders. Most teach-ins will take place this Saturday, December 3: anyone can sign up at

On the day before Thanksgiving, appropriately, Occupy Wall Street in New York announced that they were supporting December 6th as a national day of action and encouraging people across the country to defend their homes against illegal bank actions. Throughout California and across the country people are organizing a variety of actions and many will publically announce that they are refusing to leave when faced with an unfair eviction.

As OWS member Max Berger told Salon, “This is a shift from protesting Wall Street fraud to taking action on behalf of people who were harmed by it. It brings the movement into the neighborhoods and gives people a sense of what's really at stake.”

Are you ready to be the next Rose Gudiel? Are you ready to stand by a neighbor or friend that is resisting a wrongful foreclosure? Sign up for a teach-in at and then take the pledge at

Why we are taking a stand against an immoral foreclosure

 By Rose Mary Gudiel  

Last Friday, the moment I had been dreading arrived: my family was served an eviction notice by the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department. OneWest Bank and Fannie Mae believe this is the final chapter of the foreclosure on our family’s home of almost 7 years. But myself, my mother Rosa Maria, my brother Herbert, and my father Miguel have decided that we will not leave. Fannie Mae will not take our family home!

It is hard for us to believe the manner in which we have been treated by first Indy Mac, then One West bank and now Fannie Mae. After the unfortunate passing of our youngest brother, our family fell behind two weeks on our mortgage payment.  During this time, in the wake of the Wall Street meltdown, I was also furloughed from my state job helping others to find employment. It was a miracle that we made it through that time, but we did. We did it by staying focused, working hard, making sacrifices and most importantly coming together as a family.

But my circumstances meant nothing to the bank. OneWest refused my mortgage payment that was just two weeks late. Although three of us have full-time jobs and we are able to pay, they have refused every single payment ever since.   Instead, we’ve been taken on a roller coaster ride of paperwork requests, false promises and denials. It makes no sense.

My parents taught us to work hard, play by the rules and to be good citizens and we have done our best.  It has always been my dream to repay them for all they have given me by buying them a home.  I worked hard and saved money to achieve that dream, and we had a home for our multi-generational family of eight.  We have celebrated Christmases, birthdays and Thanksgiving in this home, so the prospect of losing it to greed and injustice is simply too much to bear.

Stopping preventable foreclosures is better for families, neighborhoods, and our economy. How is it better to flood our neighborhoods with vacant, abandoned foreclosures than to have homeowners keep paying their mortgage and keep up their properties? Or in other cases to sell them at half the price – lower even than a modified mortgage they could offer to me on my own home first?

That’s why we have decided that we are refusing to leave.  We are asking that our eviction be halted and that out loan be modified so we can stay.  But if the sheriff comes first, we are refusing to move.  And we’ll be joined by the hundreds of friends, neighbors, supporters and co-workers that have pledged to stand with us.  

There are thousands of families like ours in California and across the nation.  The greedy, predatory and irresponsible practices of big banks and their rich CEOs caused the economic collapse and foreclosure crisis, destroying millions of American jobs and devastating families like ours.

Yet after getting bailed out by taxpayers, banks today are making billions in profits by continuing to prey on consumers and extract profits from our communities, with no regard for the impact on neighborhoods and people’s economic livelihoods. By holding homeowners underwater and refusing to clean up the foreclosure mess, banks are devastating our neighborhoods, depressing the economy, and preventing millions of working Californians from getting back on their feet.

We are proud to be working with hundreds of families to organize a week of activities to take our fight to the banks to send the message that it’s “time to make Wall Street banks pay.”  We will be calling on banks to keep families in their homes, pay their fair share of taxes and help rebuild hard-hit neighborhoods.  The actions will end on October 6th with a mass mobilization of over a thousand people beginning at California Plaza at 350 South Grand.  

Together, with your support, we will fight to save our American Dream and thousands of other families across the state.  We are not leaving.  Will you stand with us?

Rose Mary Gudiel is a member of ACCE, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.  For more information about the mobilizations, please visit

Fed up homeowners to stand up to Wall Street Banks

Note: This is a preview to two weeks of actions, rallies and mobilizations of homeowners who are fighting to “Make Wall Street Banks Pay” in the Bay Area (Spet 26-29) and LA (Oct 3-6). Details of events can be found at

Last Thursday’s news was startling even for those who already knew California is at the epicenter of America's foreclosure crisis. New data showed that California had a staggering 55% increase in foreclosure notices in August, the highest in the nation. Coincidentally, it also marked three years since the shocking day that Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy and our economy began to unravel.

Last Thursday’s news was startling even for those who already knew California is at the epicenter of America's foreclosure crisis. New data showed that California had a staggering 55% increase in foreclosure notices in August, the highest in the nation. Coincidentally, it also marked three years since the shocking day that Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy and our economy began to unravel. It was appropriate, then, that a broad coalition of homeowners, students, faith leaders and activists spent yesterday shining light on the foreclosure crisis and economic despair and announced plans to fight back with even more intensity. Over the last two weeks, community events have been held across the state in Sacramento, San Jose, San Francisco, Richmond, Oakland, Los Angeles and San Diego, where people like Ana Guardado told their stories. Guardado, who lives in San Jose, has watched neighborhood friends of over 25 years move away as they lost their homes. She told the San Mercury News, “Two years ago, I saw a family outside in their yard on Christmas Day, and I decided I had to get involved. The family had all this stuff spread out, and they had a Christmas tree in the front yard so their kids could have Christmas.” Guardado invited people to get involved in helping affected families by visiting

The new report released detailed the impact of the foreclosure crisis in neighborhoods across the state. In Sacramento, one of the hardest hit regions of the state, the numbers are staggering for a small city: by 2012, the 5 year total of foreclosed homes is expected to reach 71,470. Homeowners have lost an estimated $17.7 billion in property values, tax revenue losses are estimated at $108 million, and local government costs for increased safety inspections, police and fire calls, trash removal, and maintenance are estimated at $620 million.

“This report quantifies what people in California have understood for years – banks’ practices are financially devastating to our neighborhoods and cities,” said Peggy Mears of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), a statewide community organization helping California residents organize and take action to improve their lives.

The report offers the latest evidence that fixing the foreclosure crisis is central to fixing the economy. Data from the report shows that:

  • The crisis of homeowners being underwater (owing more on their mortgages than their homes are now worth) could be solved by banks writing down those mortgages. It would save affected California homeowners an average of $810 every month and pump $20 billion annually into local economies.
  • With the extra $810 per month, homeowners could start spending again, making purchases they have been putting off. The increase in consumer demand would in turn help create 300,000 jobs in California.
  • Sacramento alone has 80,361 homeowners underwater by $7.4 billion. If banks wrote down those mortgages, it could pump $781 million into the local economy and create 11,544 jobs.

The situation is similar in Los Angeles, says ACCE member Lyneva Mottley, who lives in the Watts neighborhood. “For months now, banks have been ignoring the demands of residents in Watts and other neighborhoods to clean up the housing mess and end business practices that are devastating our communities,” said Mottley, who has seen foreclosures destroy her neighborhood. “It’s time to make Wall Street banks pay for their predatory actions. If they don’t clean up the trash they leave in our neighborhoods, stop unfair foreclosures and start paying their fair share of taxes, we are going to take our concerns directly to the banks and make our voices heard.” . Community members also went door to door in cities throughout the state to spread the word among neighborhood residents about a week of actions to force banks to pay their fair share.

The events are planned for September 26-29 in the Bay Are and October 3-6 in the Los Angeles. The rallies and protests will lead up to mass mobilizations in the Bay Area on September 29 and in Los Angeles on October 6. While Wall Street banks crashed the economy, are destroying local communities and are wrecking state budgets in California and across the country, regular citizens are paying the price. Today, California homeowners are still overpaying for their mortgages, students are getting hit with new fee hikes, and families are paying millions in overdraft fees because of the mess created by the banks (which are back to earning record profits and paying their CEOs enormous bonuses).

The campaign's goals are to: 1. Fix the economy by fixing the housing crisis through enacting a widespread mortgage principal reduction program, creating 300,000 California jobs and injecting over $20 billion into the economy. 2. Restore needed state revenue by making Wall Street banks pay their fair share of taxes and closing tax loopholes exploited by rich corporations. 3. Rebuild California neighborhoods by helping homeowners and restoring revenue to local communities by penalizing banks for foreclosures and blight, renegotiating costly interest-rate swap deals and winning court-based mediation for homeowners. California residents are encouraged to join the campaign and get more information by calling 877-633-9251  or visiting

Underwater Mortgages and 1 Million Jobs

Underwater Mortgages and 1 Million Jobs
Note: This is modified from a blog originally posted at   

Today, ACCE and the New Bottom Line released a report detailing a solution to the foreclosure crisis. “The Win-Win Solution: How Fixing The Housing Crisis Will Create 1 Million Jobs” details how we can fix the housing crisis and revitalize our communities and economy if the banks were to lower the principal balance on all underwater mortgages to current market value.  

One in five Americans owe more on their mortgage than their home is actually worth.  Collectively, underwater homeowners will have to pay down $709 billion in principal before they can start building equity in their homes.  Every effort to reboot the housing market to date has failed because it has not done the most essential thing: reduce the massive debt load carried by underwater homeowners.

The report reveals that if the banks stepped up and provided principal reduction on all underwater mortgages to current market value, we could:

•    Create 1 million jobs every year — This includes over 300,000 jobs in California, the state hit hardest by the financial crisis.  
•    Pump over $70 billion per year back into communities– This includes $12 billion dollars per year in Florida, the second of the two states hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis.
•    Save the average family over $500 per month on mortgage payment
•    Solve the foreclosure crisis once and for all

“Homeowners across the nation are struggling to pay their boom-era mortgages with their recession-era salaries and the economy is suffering for it,” notes the report. “Writing down the principals and interest rates on all underwater mortgages to market value would serve as the second stimulus that America so desperately needs, only without added costs to taxpayers.”

As the banks have been able to profit from millions of people losing their homes,”The Win/Win Solution” demonstrates that the banks can afford to execute this plan.  Last year, the nation’s top six banks paid out more than twice the cost of the plan ($71 billion per year) in bonuses and compensation alone ($146 billion in 2010).  Currently, the nation’s banks are sitting on a historically high level of cash reserves of $1.64 trillion.

This is an opportunity for California Attorney General Kamala Harris to step up and be a hero to Californians.  Standing up to Wall Street Banks is good policy and good politics.To help us prioritize our communities and our families and start rebuilding a working economy, join our call to Attorney General Harris to make principal reduction on underwater mortgages a key part of any foreclosure settlement with banks.

For more information on ACCE and this campaign, visit

46 Years later, Watts destroyed anew

By Lyneva Mottley

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 46 years since August 11, 1965, the day the Watts uprising began.  I’ll never forget the fear that I felt watching the chaos unfold.  I was shocked but not surprised: you could feel the anger and frustration building up during that hot summer. The booming California economy was providing little opportunity for people of color.  Public policy was benefiting the already fortunate and was leaving behind those who were already disadvantaged.  In California, as in the rest of the country, African American and Latino families were reaching a boiling point that could not be contained any longer. Over the following two years there were a number of additional riots in Chicago, Newark, Detroit and elsewhere.  

Today in Watts and across California people are feeling that familiar angry bubbling stirring up as the gap between rich and poor grows ever wider. During this time it is important that we recall the lessons from that turbulent period in our nation’s past.

Two years after the riots broke out, President Lyndon Johnson established The Kerner Commission to try to understand what happened and what could be done to prevent further occurrences.

The resulting document, known as the Kerner Report, recommended that people from all walks of life have more equal access in four major areas:  jobs, education, housing and services.  Unfortunately, the inequality of 46 years ago is all too familiar today.

To be sure, there have been areas of progress.  The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 outlawed discriminatory banking practices and redlining.  This helped give millions of minority families like mine the opportunity to fulfill the American Dream through homeownership.

I knew something was wrong a decade ago when my mailbox began to get filled on a daily basis with offers that seemed too good to be true.  The pamphlets were from realtors, brokers and lenders that were selling predatory loans.  These subprime loans were designed to be more expensive products for high risk borrowers, but turned out to be a chance for loan sharks to make a buck by pushing them on my elderly and minority neighbors, whether they needed them or not.  One Wells Fargo loan officer recently testified publicly to the widespread practice of steering subprime loans, cynically referred to as “ghetto loans,” to borrowers with good credit.

Wall Street securitized these loans and packaged them as good investments until the market’s inevitable collapse.  According to a recent report, “Homewreckers,” the loss to homeowners, the property tax base, and local governments amounts to at least $650 billion. Meanwhile, bank CEOs continue to be absurdly compensated, with Chase’s Jamie Dimon earning $20.7 million and Wells Fargo’s John Stumpf earning $17.5 million in 2010.

Of course, African American and Latino families have not fared nearly as well.  A new report from the Pew Research Center finds that median household wealth in African American households declined 53% between 2005 and 2009 from $12,124 to $5,677.  Wealth among Latinos fell even more dramatically during the period, from $18,359 to $6,325, a 66% decline.[4]

Many of us feel as frustrated today as we did in 1965. Yet, as was the case 46 years ago, there is an opportunity for elected officials and Wall Street to address the problems.  Key among them is the growing number of mortgage holders who now owe more than their houses are worth. Today, 23% of homeowners are underwater, including as many as 35% of African American homeowners and 41% of Hispanic homeowners.

It is a problem we can solve if we have the will to do so.  We can actually fix the foreclosure crisis in California by writing down all underwater mortgages (2.1 million in the state) to market value.  This would pump an annual $19.9 billion into the state economy and create 295,000 new jobs annually for 30 years.  It would save Californians an average of $790 a month on mortgage payments and would dramatically reverse the loss of wealth in minority communities.  

I still believe in the American Dream.  That’s why Bank CEOs and elected officials owe a solution to devastated black and Latino families in Watts and everywhere who believe we all deserve a fair chance to pursue our dreams.

Lyneva Mottley grew up in Watts and has lived there for over 50 years. A homeowner, she is retired from a career in factory work and home health care. She is the acting chair of the Watts chapter of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE).  For more information about ACCE, visit